Smart growth drives CT’s urban development

“I thought about the work that will happen in that building and the people who will be helped by that research,” said DeSantos, senior vice president of community development for Manchester civil engineering firm Fuss & O’Neill. “[Community] development is all about people for me now.”

He’s not alone in that thinking. Over the past 20 years, developers, civil engineers, state officials, businesses and communities across Connecticut and the U.S. have been shifting focus away from traffic-oriented engineering and urban sprawl to smart-growth development concentrated on walkable, condensed mixed-use space that combines residential, commercial and recreational usage.

DeSantos points to New Haven’s Coliseum Redevelopment as a model for smart growth. The $430-million, seven-year project will convert the former Coliseum parking lot into a community with more than 1,000 apartments, 30 restaurants, retail shops, a four-and-a-half-star hotel and conference space. The project is a component of New Haven’s Downtown Crossing development, a massive multi-year plan designed to reconnect the city’s downtown with its medical district.

Development centerpiece

Alexion’s new headquarters, at 100 College St., serves as one of the centerpieces to the development.

“In the 21st-century, towns will need a mixed-use ecosystem to thrive,” said Max Reim, managing partner of Montreal-based LiveWorkLearnPlay, the developer spearheading the Coliseum project. “Smart growth is about efficiency and lifestyle.”

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